The Words of Hyung Jin Moon From 2009

The Central Focus for Our Religious Leaders

Hyung Jin Moon
January 30, 2009

Hyung Jin nim conveyed the following message at the opening of the World National Leaders Assembly 2009 to more than a hundred and twenty members, mainly national leaders and regional presidents, who were anxious to connect to their international president's heart. The assembly took place January 28-31 at the Cheongshim Youth Center and the Cheon Jeong Peace Palace in Korea.

Hello brothers and sisters. True Parents just arrived today. They are very happy that you could all come from all over the world to participate in the first national leaders' conference. There will be many topics over the course of the next few days, but these are really preparatory for the celebration of True Parents' birthday, so we hope that you will all come with that kind of celebratory heart, to really praise and give glory to True Parents on this very auspicious occasion.

Brothers and sisters, I would just like to share some of the things that have kept me constant ever since Father asked us to take on responsibility. We started out in the Mapo church; it's a small church here in Korea. Whenever Father asked me to do something new, I asked him one question, "Father, what should I do next?" Father's answer has been consistent. His response is very simple. "Continue to give Jeong Seong." That's a very important secret, I would say.

We have many different theories about why the movement is not growing or developing as we would like. Here in Korea, as we are growing the church, we are wrestling with these ideas, developing new witnessing strategies, new organizational structures and transparent financial management. It's very important. We have to be very systematic and rational in the way we think about our church development.

We are so grateful to Kook Jin hyung because he has such a systematic, organized mind and so many years of experience running organization. He has so much insight. A lot of the plans and strategies for development have come out of his genius or his Task Force Teams, which make proposals for better church growth. We deal with many different things on the ground. Because we run the church from the ground, many things have to be tested -- whether it be a home .group method or new witnessing strategy. I know you are all concerned about this and very interested in these developments, but at the same time, we have to remember that we are a spiritual movement.

We have to develop the practical organizational systems; these are critical because they provide us a safety net from organizational trouble. They prevent organizational disasters or catastrophes. But we have to recall that we are a spiritual tradition that is rooted in the devotional life. Father could have told me to focus on young people's education, or focus on witnessing, which of course our teams do, but he specifically told me to continue to give Jeong Seong.

The Chinese character for Seong in Jeong Seong has a very deep meaning. It's a character meaning "to embody the word;" on the left is "the word" and on the right is the radical for "becoming" or "actualizing." It is the substantiation of what Father has been teaching.

It seems as if, as we get very much into church development and structures, we may start to believe that it is less important to live an authentically religious life. It may be third or fourth on our list of important tasks. Religion, of course, uses scientific methods, but religion also has something beyond any of those structures; that is, it is spiritual. Every healthy religion is; it has to be to be vibrant and alive.

That's very important for us. We start our day at 2:30 with devotional practice. We go up a mountain and pray there, meditate and do recitations and bows up there. We start our day that way because one of the fundamental aspects of leadership, of religious leadership, is to continuously live a religious life. This entails not just the externals but truly trying to rid oneself of the trappings that can come once we take on position or power. To be watching oneself, analyzing oneself, meditating on oneself and emptying oneself. We see this in the Christian tradition, kenosis, emptying ourselves -- which I see as a very important aspect of religious leadership. Out of that emptying, comes humility and the attempt to live a sacrificial life. Nobody's perfect at those things, but the attempt to practice them comes out of our own attitude toward our faith. To me that is central. If I have a specialization, that's it. I'm trying to focus on keeping that center that True Father has given us, keeping sincerity of heart.

Sincerity in this context, is not, as in the traditional sense, an attitude. Jeong Seong goes into physical actions, physical religious practice, or a devotional offering -- an actualization of religious principles into life. It has a very action-oriented meaning in this context. So when I use sincerity, I'm always including that element.

Kook Jin hyung's focus on real results is a powerful catalyst for the movement. It started us focusing practically, and focusing rationally -- to not theorize, but to make result. He caused a revolutionary change, which had not been seen in the organization. Father asked us to take responsibility, then Kook Jin hyung helped us create the team, which Director Cho was also involved in, so the World Mission Department was reorganized. Then, we implemented the whole church restructuring plan.

One thing we try to focus on is empowerment of people, empowerment of our members. That's very important. If you have an empowered citizenship, you have an empowered nation, a very positive nation. One of the principles I always try to work with is that when Father gives me more responsibility, I give more away.

The Headquarters Church has had its first election for our women's ministry. These women are taking on very important roles in the church. It's the age of women in the church and we're very happy to see women rising up in leadership.

The women in the congregation elected them. No men were present at the election. These woman leaders work with the ministers on different teams. We are giving away authority. At the Headquarters Church, I have the authority to choose the leaders I want. If I wanted to put a certain woman in charge of a group, I could do that, but it's important to let go of authority, learn to give power to our members. As members feel included, it creates a powerful energy. That's what we did. We gave the members the power to choose their leaders. They chose the exact people we were scouting. The members as a group chose every single person we were interested in having as a leader. Because of that, we have tremendous confidence in allowing the members to have a larger say in how the church is developing. We've tried to do this in every single aspect.

For example, Kook Jin hyung has brought in his Jaedan [HSA-UWC Foundation] management team. These professionals manage all the church donations. The minister doesn't touch the donations. This is a very important issue. In other religions as well, such as Buddhism and some forms of Catholicism, the priests and monks won't actually handle money, as part of their practice; there's a real separation from the use of finances.

What we've done is create a transparent system. We report every single financial detail to the members every month. That's done by the head of the financial management team. He gives a report to the membership so they clearly see where every single penny is being spent. That kind of financial management also empowers the members, because it gives them insight into where the organization is moving, what it's investing in and where it's using their hard-earned donations.

We have been working with a new witnessing program. We've also been working with home-group systems, which you see being used in large Protestant churches. Some of those things are being adjusted, because they don't fit our context. We are looking at many different areas. My point is that it's like a laboratory.

Many people come up to me and ask, when will you come to our nation?

I'm always so sorry. I would love to come to every nation. I wish I could magically duplicate my body. I wish I could go around. I explain that we're trying to create something that will be like medicine for certain problems. Before that medicine goes into production and spreads around the world, we have to test it first; we have to make sure that the medicine, when delivered, creates a predictable response. Of course, this is not exactly like medicine, so there's a little flexibility here, but I use that analogy to express that we have to test these methods. We don't want to work just with theories. We want to make sure they lead to the desired outcome. That's why I've focused on the Headquarters Church. I've been asked to tour Korea, and I've said the same thing. I could have gone around and spoken about a new service culture, about a new style of worship, a new church organization that should help to promote church growth. I could have talked about that, but it wouldn't yet have any weight.

So what we did at first was focus on the ground, on the frontline, so to speak, actually dealing with people, trying to witness to them, trying to help them understand True Parents and to make the commitment to become a Unificationist. On the frontline, we've discovered some methods that don't work and some methods that do. We're in the process of creating many systems. We're using these to find methods that lead to somewhat predictable outcomes.

We have an emotional, an intellectual and a willful portion [of our character] and these resemble God. Taking out the intellectual portion is a very big mistake. So, of course, we approach things very analytically. It's important to keep in mind that rational, systematic approaches and the continuation of authentic spirituality are like wings of a bird, so that when people encounter the movement, they encounter not just an organization but a culture of spirituality. That's very important.

When you look at conversion rates in religious studies, you see that people convert to different religions when they're in their twenties or when they're in their forties to fifties. When they convert at the earlier age, when they're in their early twenties, in their colleges years, they convert mainly for intellectual reasons -- a certain philosophy or teaching is intellectually stimulating, it makes sense, it's something they would like to participate in.

When you look at the other demographic of people who convert, those in their forties and fifties, it's not intellectual. They're looking more for a community; they're looking for a place to raise their children, a trustable environment to safely raise a family. It's more emotional, though you cannot take out the intellectual aspect.

A lot of excitement is developing because of the changes in the church, but beyond structure, it is the responsibility of our leaders to offer a deep and continuing spiritual environment, spiritual practice and ambiance. This is critical.

In the Headquarters Church, we have ministry teams. We have ministers that focus on, for example, spiritual discipline and other ministers that focus on management, managing the groups under them. We've found that they all have to focus somewhat on management, but when more emphasis was put on spiritual devotion, the people under them were more inspired. The woman leaders underneath them want to introduce people to a minister who is serious about and continues to practice a spiritual life. When that is not present, we found they didn't have as much confidence to bring people to those leaders.

As religious leaders, the key is to focus on the spiritual, devotional aspect. So, we've begun to delegate the other responsibilities, like financial management or the allocation of different types of ministries. Our twenty-three woman leaders decide how they are to use their group's assets. We give them authority to do that. They also decide what strategies they want to use.

When we're able to trust the members more, it stimulates a very positive environment. They are the ones that come up with methods that work, or don't work, who change methods and are accountable as the people making decisions. That is a great win for us, because that helps us focus on the devotional practice.

It's also very positive and very important that the members have more say about who their leaders are. We're very enthusiastic about holding elections. We've already done that in the Korean church, and we always encourage all the nations to create electoral systems, create areas where you empower members, give them strength and authority. When leaders do that, it helps us spiritually, because as spiritual leaders, we have to be in the practice of giving away authority not clinging, not attaching ourselves, to power. That helps us to stay spiritually clean. Ridding ourselves of those kinds of things is actually a great win for leaders. We see the participation of members as a very positive trend for the Unification tradition.

I want to make it clear, because Father has been very clear that the central focus is taking religious life seriously. I've lived with monastics. I've lived with monks and priests of different traditions, and I deeply respect them because their whole focus is on the spiritual dimension of their particular tradition. There is a very inspirational power there. It's significant that Buddhist leaders focus very strongly on the spiritual aspect, making that a huge priority. Many people around the world in our tradition are studying the growth of big Protestant churches. They learn that in the really successful ones, if you look at the minister and pastoral teams, they are extremely into devotion. They're extremely into fasting. They're extremely into spiritual practice. It's central to their success.

They're not just into CEO-style management. One small-group specialist gave the example of a marketing expert who set out to make a very successful church, but it was an abysmal failure. He understood the systems, understood how to present the ideas to people, but he didn't understand that a church is fundamentally a religious organization and has to inspire people religiously and give them spiritual nourishment. A church must have that center -- a religious life of devotion and sincerity. It probably seems obvious to everybody, but it can be quickly forgotten when you're trying to implement strategies.

I hope nobody expects that after listening to lectures for two days, you'll go back to your countries, everything will be solved and we'll all have booming churches. That's not going to happen. But we hope you'll understand the trajectory, the direction in which the church development is moving.

We'll also focus on aspects of the world temple. As we speak of the practical elements of it, please remember it is a real temple. We are very serious about the substantiation of the world temple as a continuation of our spiritual tradition in our fatherland. We hope you find the explanations illuminating.

Please forgive us for not visiting your countries. We're always praying for all your countries. But we also want to be responsible, be accountable and create the right combination of elements that do promote healthy church growth.

With that being said, I'd like to close. Thank you all for coming. We're very happy that you're all here. On True Father's birthday, let us really celebrate with True Parents and give them the glory they deserve. I hope that that glory continues on, and that it shines through every single member in your country. We want the focus to be on letting the members shine, letting new members shine, letting people who join our movement shine.

Thank you so much.

Hyung Jin Nim's Prayer:

Heavenly Father, most beloved True Parents,

Thank You so much for this day that You have blessed upon us. Father, today we have gathered in the beautiful mountains of Korea, the mystical mountains in Your fatherland. Father, here we are in the presence of True Parents, who are at Cheong Jeong Gung. Father, we pray that You may bless them with abundant health and divine protection, so that everywhere they go, they may continue to shed Your light of love, Your light of hope, Your light of inspiration and blessing. Father we thank You for all the brothers and sisters that have gathered here today, as national leaders, at this assembly. Father we pray that You may bless them, You may bless their families and their nations, and that we may become the leaders of the new era. Father, that we can truly empty ourselves, lift others up, and understand that that formula is Your formula. That formula is truly the way of humility and practice. And in the end the way of glorifying You. Father, thank You so much....

Illuminate our minds, Father, inspire our spirits, and allow us to bring joy and peace to Your heart. Father we pray that today, you may once again bless each one of these leaders here, each of their children, that you may keep them in mind, and each one of their relatives, and connected friends all over the world. We pray that You may be with our Unification family today. Father bless us, this day. Father we pray that over these next couple of days, we can offer You glory and gratitude. We pray this with an everlasting love, and most humble gratitude, in the names of all our brothers and sisters around the world together here as one. In True Parents' names, Aju. 

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